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.comment: New Stuff - page 3

Free as in Software and PictureBooks

  • April 25, 2001
  • By Dennis E. Powell

I love the Opera browser. It's good, fast, and cheap, in fact free if you're willing to put up with banner ads that at 1024x768 or above are fairly unobtrusive and at 800x600 or below are pretty annoying. (If you run at a low resolution, you can send the Opera people $39 or put that money toward a better monitor or video card, any of which will reduce or eliminate the banner bother.)

But I had grown overly confident of the work of Opera's developers, which confidence lulled me into doing something really stupid: I deleted my beta 6 download when I got beta 7. Beta 7, I'm extremely sorry to say, is barely usable.

Its claim to fame is that it accepts plugins. This is currently of relatively little importance to me because until my VIA Audio Codec gets sorted out (which I despair of ever happening), I'm without sound on my desktop machine.

The fatal flaw is that it crashes. Just up and disappears, ala Netscape. Unlike Netscape, it does not leave a few processes screaming for help until the processor gives them everything it's got, but it crashes nevertheless. Sometimes this is at random, in which case reopening Opera 5.0 b 7 is enough, because a dialog box appears asking you if you'd like to go back to where you were (which of course you would, in that otherwise you would have closed it yourself). But most frequently Opera takes an intermission when traveling back through visited links. When it reopens and you tell it you'd like to go where you were, going back is no longer available. Plugins be damned, I'd go back to beta 6 in an instant, but for my having nuked it.

As long as I'm here, I'll voice another complaint, my only other one, really, about Opera: Its bookmark handling is just awful. Both Konqueror and Netscape do it better. What's needed? The ability to readily edit bookmarks and some choices in the way they're ordered. My preference is to put the new ones at the bottom of the list, as in Netscape, and, when the list gets too long to create new bookmark folders and sort the new stuff into them. (What would be really nice, in keeping with my theme of the year, which seems to have become "why can't we all just get along?", would be an external bookmark reconciler that would be the place that all browsers could direct their bookmark commands and that would produce a nice HTML bookmark list used by all.)

As it stands, Opera 5.0 b 7 for Linux has lost the essential feature, stability. I look forward to beta 8.

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